Skip to main content
elizabeth renzetti

The scene: A young screenwriter and a veteran producer meet to discuss a project in a Beverly Hills restaurant.

Producer: All right, kid. So tell me about this disaster movie.

Screenwriter: Well, it's based on a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change –

Producer: Yawn. Yawnosaurus rex. I won't have to renew my Ambien prescription at this rate.

Screenwriter: Okay, fine. It's Noah meets Twister.

Producer: Now you're talking. Noah's doing huge box office. Tag line?

Screenwriter: One of the study's lead authors described it this way: "We're all sitting ducks."

Producer: I like that. Sitting ducks. Can Matt and Ben play the ducks?

Screenwriter: No, as in "We're all sitting ducks." Everyone on the planet, but the poor especially, who will be hit disproportionately hard by global warming.

Producer: The poor come in handy at Oscar time. Maybe we can get that pirate kid from Captain Phillips.

Screenwriter: It's really the story of a planet at risk, and how we mitigate that risk –

Producer: No New York words. They make my teeth hurt.

Screenwriter: It's the story of how climate change might cause chaos and war, if you look at the shortage of grains –

Producer: Shortage of brains? So it's a zombie movie, too. I am loving this.

Screenwriter: No, grains. Think maize, or wheat –

Producer: But not quinoa, right? Because I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world without quinoa. That's every lunch shot right to hell.

Screenwriter: I'm pretty sure we're looking at trouble on the quinoa front, too. The report forecasts lower crop yields in the near future. It's already happening. That means we're likely to see food shortages, and that could lead to riots.

Producer: Like Whole Foods at Thanksgiving.

Screenwriter (taking a deep breath): Possibly even worse. Imagine that you're at Whole Foods but you can't leave the parking lot, and someone's smashing your windshield to get at your quinoa.

Producer: Damn, it's too bad The Hunger Games is already taken. Food riots, that has potential. I can see it now. Top Chef meets Thunderdome.

(A waitress arrives at the table.)

Producer: I'll have an almond-milk microfoam latte.

Screenwriter: Whisky, please. Large whisky. Look, there's a ton of terrifying material in this report. It's 2,600 pages long, it took years to put together and more than 300 smart people contributed to it.

Producer: Sounds like the script for The Hobbit.

Screenwriter: Let me just read you this one quote: "Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger."

Producer: You're going to have to boil that down for the kids at Comic Con. It's too wordy. They'll never listen. You need one word to put on a poster.

Screenwriter: I guess Screwed is out of the question?

Producer: Keep trying. What I want to know is, why haven't I seen anything about this report on CNN?

Screenwriter: That's a good question. They've been a bit busy with that missing plane. And this is a terrifically complicated issue. I mean, how do you show species migration or the acidification of the oceans in a news clip?

Producer: Five words: Heroic marine biologist Ryan Gosling. In a Speedo. Okay, that's eight words. If the world's so damn hot, you just keep Gosling in the Speedo through the whole thing. So there's the upside.

Screenwriter: I'm not sure there is an upside. It's a pretty bleak picture. A lot of damage has already been done, and there needs to be international co-operation to prevent things from getting worse. The head of the panel called for the report to "jolt people into action."

Producer: That's the Jennifer Lawrence role, right?

Screenwriter (gulping his drink): I hadn't really considered her. The head of the panel is called Rajendra Pachauri, and he's 73 years old.

Producer: What, you're a sexist all of the sudden? Have you seen JLaw on screen? That girl's got range.

Screenwriter: Fine. I can work with that. Jennifer Lawrence as chief of the IPCC. Excellent.

Producer: And Channing Tatum is the glacierologist.

Screenwriter: I'm not sure that's an actual job title.

Producer: He's a maverick glacierologist, and he likes to work without a shirt, because the glaciers are melting. That's right, isn't it? Glaciers are melting?

Screenwriter (draining his drink): Yes. Ice fields are melting.

Producer: All right, kid. Let's get this thing done. One question, though: I'm in Malibu. Do you think I should move to the hills?

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct